Update: Much of the information below is now wrong! Visas take much longer to get – the queues are longer, and if you don’t arrive really early, you’ll be given a ticket to come back at a later date. The best way to learn more is to look through the comments that other people have helpfully supplied – check the most recent ones.
If you ever decide to visit India, you’ll discover at the travel agent that you have to get a visa. At this point you’ll go through several well-defined stages; shock, anger, fear, irritation and acceptance. Then you’ll find out that you have to make the trip to an Indian Consulate (in my case, India House on Aldwych in London), and you’ll go through them all over again. This is a brief guide on how to get a visa for India and what’s involved. This was all applicable in November 2004 – things may have changed by the time you read this and I advise you not to just rely on this guide, just in case.
1) Don’t worry, it’s not actually that difficult
2) You can be in and out within two hours
3) If you make sure you clearly and fully complete your application form, then things will go much quicker
4) Bring a magazine or a book
Before you go
I’m going to assume that you have already visited the High Commission of India’s website, downloaded the visa form and decided on when to go to the commission. The website also has a list of official holidays at the commission when they’ll be closed – check this because they have a number of holidays and you’ll feel really stupid if you turn up and no-one’s home.
Fill in your form, check it and double-check it. Get two passport-sized photos and make sure you have the correct amount of money for the application fee in cash – they don’t take cheques or credit cards.
When you decide on when you’re going to go get your visa, you might want to consider if there are any holidays around when you go. For example, I visited the commission after two days of holiday (Diwali). As a result, I suspect the queues were longer.
How can I find the commission at Aldwych?
It’s the thing with a huge queue of people snaking out from it (unless you get there absurdly early). It’s hard to miss. The really long queue is the one for visas, the short one is for people with Indian passport enquiries (i.e. not you).
The start of the first queue, disappearing into the distance.
The end of the first queue (you can see the window at the end of the curve)
What time should I turn up?
The commission in London opens at 8:30am. I arrived at 8:35am and there were already over 150 people in the queue in front of me. I think people start queueing up as early as 7:30am, and I talked to a girl who’d been queueing since 7:45am and she got out at 9:45am (i.e. two hours all told). The problem with turning up that early is that while there are fewer people in front of you, you still have to wait for the place to open.
As a result, I think that if you turn up at any time before, say, 9am, it’ll probably take you around two hours altogether. If you leave it any later, you’ll have to wait longer. I really don’t recommend turning up any later than 9:30am since there’s a good chance you won’t be able to pick up your visa that day, or at least you’ll have to wait for much longer than two hours.
What’s the process when I get there?
I heard many people in the queue criticising the commission for an illogical system. That’s not true – it’s perfectly logical and it even is vaguely organised. The only problem is that they seem to have no desire to inform anyone of how it works. Luckily, I do.
The process has three steps; queueing to get a queue number, queueing to hand in your visa application, and waiting to get your completed visa. You’ll notice there’s a lot of queueing involved.
The First Queue: Getting a Queue Number
This is the one outside of India House. I arrived at 8:35am and spent a little under an hour in this queue. It moves along quite regularly. The point of this queue is to show a guy in a window that you have a passport and then to collect a piece of paper with a queue number (or numbers, depending on how many passports and visa applications you’re making). The queue number you collect here (e.g. B69) is for the second queue, inside.
The Second Queue: Handing in your visa appplication
After you collect your queue number, you’ll be allowed inside and walk upstairs to a room with a bunch of commission staff behind windows. There are a lot of seats here and in a side room that also has vending machines.
Once you get upstairs, do not loiter around in front of window 1, which will be directly in front of you when you go through the door at the top of the stairs. Window 1 is for people collecting their completed visas and right now, that’s not you. Instead, go and wait in the main room and get a seat if you can. There’s a display in the corner of the room with the current queue number. Notice that a letter from A to E is also highlighted below the number. The queue number cycles through the letters and goes from A1 to E99, so do not make the all-too-typical mistake of going to a window when it’s your number but not your letter; the staff won’t be impressed.
Since many people there are submitting multiple visa applications (e.g. for friends or family) the queue number tends to go in bursts. I got inside at around 9:30am and the queue number was A77. My number, B69, took about 40 minutes to come up. When it’s your number, go straight to the next free window; don’t worry if they seem to have skipped past your number.
Once you’re at the window, hand over your application, passport, passport photos and money. Do not waste everyone’s time by searching through bags and wallets for the necessary stuff; you just spent at least an hour queueing before this so you don’t have an excuse. This bit only took me a couple of minutes because I’d filled in my form properly and hadn’t been denied a visa in the past. After she’s taken all your stuff, she’ll give you a receipt with your queue number (the same one as before) written on it. She will keep your passport – they need it to process your visa.
Waiting to get your completed visa
They hand out visas at window 1. For some inexplicable reason, there are always loads of people rammed up against this window despite the fact that there can be an hour long wait and also they always call out your number multiple times when they have your visa ready. Who knows why people do this – it certainly doesn’t speed things up.
The staff member who gave you your receipt will tell you how long you can expect to wait if you ask her. I was told it’d be 45 minutes; instead it was only 20 minutes. I put this down to my charming personality, or more likely, the fact that there weren’t any issues with my passport or application. You might as well sit down again at this point and wait for your number to be called out. Don’t fall asleep or listen to music, even if it seems it’ll take ages based on what numbers they’re calling out at the moment; they tend to skip around numbers a lot so they might be calling out B1 in one minute and B60 in the next.
When they call out your number, fight your way through the silly huddle of people around the window and get your passport with your visa inside. They’ll tell you to check it – do it! You are checking to make sure that they’ve gotten your passport number correct, and that the valid dates are correct for when you want to visit (they’ll actually be valid for ages longer than you’ll typically need it).
And then you can leave, all done! Like I said, it took me two hours altogether and I suspect it would be even quicker if I hadn’t gone through after two days of holiday.
Is there a toilet?
While I have not seen it myself I’m told there is one downstairs.
You’re wrong about x
Perhaps I am, I only went there once and things may have changed. Please do not rely on this guide for anything really urgent.
I can’t be bothered queueing up, is there some way I can mail my application in?
You can mail it directly to the commission, or you can use a visa service. The visa services are often much quicker and more expensive. Whether or not you want to use them depends on how much you value your time. I don’t know anything more about them so don’t ask me to recommend one.
Why did you bother writing this?
I estimate that at least 400 people go to the commission every day. That’s up to 100,000 per year. I was not been able to find anything decent online about the actual process of getting a visa before I visited, and for many of the people there, it’s quite a stressful and anxious procedure. I decided that a guide explaining all of the steps involved would make it a little clearer and more understandable for all concerned. Perhaps it might even speed things up!
Will you update this guide?
I sorely doubt it, unless there happens to be a good reason.
I would like to reprint this guide
Email me. There’s a link at the top of this page.
302 Replies to “How to obtain a visa for India in London”
Thanks so much for the explanation of how to get your visa from the High Commission as nobody there tells you; just knowing the system meant I could keep calm and put all the waiting time to good use (two exhibitions and some retail therapy)
So as a guide for anyone going next week – I went on Friday 23rd Nov and arrived at 8.20 a.m. Massive queue. By 9.15 I had a ticket with my number (504) and was in Starbucks warming up. The timings given with the tickets are not accurate; 504 got me to the first window at 12.30. Then things went pear-shaped. The window where they hand back passports closed at 1 p.m. until 2 for lunch, and after lunch all the applications seemed to have been randomised – they were giving out passports to queue numbers anywhere between 400 and 650. I finally got my passport back at 3.30.
So in conclusion, the system does work but you need to put aside a whole day to getting the visa. As a bonus you get a taste of India before you go!
Ohhh this all sounds so complicated! 3.30 in the morning is not a good time to be standing about in the cold this close to christmas… !
Does anyone know how long a tourist visa lasts for, and whether it starts immediately or not? I can’t seem to find that information anywhere.
Natalie, Your Visa will be valid from when it is issued. Tourist visas are automatically issued a six month lifespan with multiple entries. This means you can leave India and return again during its validity.
If you find my original post above, you will see that I queued from 03:35. Not exactly sure how desperate things are at the moment – people on this list do seem to be arriving much later and getting a result though.
Don’t forget, Diwali (Deepavali) occurred on the 7th November, this could have added to the problems that I experienced.
After reading this thread I rather dreaded ever booking a holiday to India in the first place! But let me give another perspective on the process:
I arrived at the High Commission today at the gentlemanly hour of 9.30am. I got a ticket to come back at 11.30am. So off I went back to work (I’m lucky in that I work in Fleet St). Arrived back at the High Commission about 11.35am; applications were processed by 11.50am, and I had two visas in hand by 12.10pm.
Either I was very luck, or things have improved markedly from October / earlier in Nov because it really wan’t too much bother at all! For those who travel in from out of London, Covent Garden is just around the corner and an easy place to kill a couple of hours waiting for the return time.
Just got back from the Queue now. Got there at 6:15am, and made friends with my fellow queue victims as suggested – a very good plan, as we had 4 jumpers. One didn’t dispute our objections to his right to be in the line, and disappeared. Another, a couple, stood resolutely refusing to make eye contact, claiming to have been there since 4am (we saw them alight from a taxi) and when challenged further, Mrs turned on the tears. No sympathy but they were clearly professionals as they managed to get to number 20 in the queue eventually. And then one super nice gentleman who lost his place in the queue for making a phone call… yeah right.
Anyway, queued from 6:15, only got cold when it got light and it was cold, but once the embassy opened, the queue moved pretty quickly. I was number 47 and 48, at the counter by 9:13 and passports in hand by 9:20.
By the time I got out, the queue outside was only about 30 people long, but it was pretty packed inside, so not sure whether you go early and sit in the dark but get it processed quickly, or go later and wait a similar amount of time, but in office hours? Total time for me was just over 3 hours and would choose the early option again, just to be sure. And it really wasn’t too bad.
Glad it wasn’t raining…
I went all the way up to Edinburgh yesterday to get my visa (from Newcastle upon Tyne).
I got up at 5am as suggested and got tot the Embassy for 5:20ish, and there was NO ONE THERE!! Which should have been a good thing, right?
Wrong. Being that I’m not Scottish I couldn’t apply for a visa from there. There is a sign outside saying that proof of Scottish residency is required.
I’m now going to have to use a visa agency because I’m not doing all that again but in London….
Went to The High commission on yesterday Wednesday 28th, arrived at around 8am queued for around an hour, told to return at 10.30am received my visa’s at around 12. So wasn’t as bad as I thought, and to be honest I had a great time, every one was high spirited and very helpful. And if there wasn’t all that waiting around I wouldn’t of met so many interesting people. The way I’d describe it would be structured chaos, if you knew the process then fine if not ask. Every one is in the same boat so people are more then willing to help..
Although one thing that did confuse me is that my partner was given a 6 month multiple entry visa, while I was given a three month 1 entry visa, due to my occupation a picture researcher, Strange..
Anyway Good luck all those heading up there..
Any recommendations on visa agencies to use or avoid ? would be gratefully received !
Jay, Visa World were the start of all my problems – see my original entry above. Nice and friendly before you pay them; bloody useless and unhelpful after that. They had my passport for over a month, before eventually telling me they were sending it back, unprocessed. This was despite numerous phone calls and much anxiety.
If they had been more upfront about the situation in London at the time, I would not have taken them up on their service. I met several people with similar views that day.
Avoid, not recommended….
there at 630 after getting up at 430! in at 0845 got visa and passport at 930. wont do it again though!!!
Went to the Indian embassy in London today. 30th Nov. Arrived at 7.30 to find a queue of at least 200+ people, the people at the front arrived at 4am. By 8.30 there was 300+ people behind us.
Despite all that it wasn’t too bad, once the doors open it doesn’t take long to get inside, it’s just a lot of waiting around. The advice on this site is spot on. Finally walked out with visa in hand at around 11.30. Make sure you have the correct form from the high commission website not from a travel agent site and have the stuff in your hand ready to go once your in, and once your in don’t go anywhere until you have your visa. Toilets are downstairs.
To be honest if you have time do it through an agent or by post and save a lot of hassle, they are taking postal visa applications again now due to all the queue problems. If you don’t have time wrap up warm and wear comfy shoes. Your going to be standing around for a long long time. And chat to the people around you, your all in the same boat and it really helps pass the time. It was actually a good laugh by the end… Who had the lucky numbers for the next visa, they come out in random order so make sure you can hear the numbers being called for collection.
Visa still hadn’t arrived by Wednesday so went to London on Thursday. We got there at 07.30 and the queue was half way round, by 08.15 we couldn’t see the end of it! We were inside by 08.50 and had to wait for the PRO who doesn’t appear till 09.30. There were plenty of people in the same situation as us (had sent passports off but hadn’t had them back). We then had to fill a form in and were told to come back at 15.30, left the building at about 10.30.
Just after having had something to eat I received a phone call from my son……..yes……my passport had arrived at home! It was stamped the 20th but they hadn’t posted it till the 28th.
In all fairness for those who were getting visas on the day it seemed to be going pretty well. They had already started to issue visas whilst we still waiting for the PRO. I do agree about the queue jumpers and made sure one man realised what I thought.
Next year I will NOT be sending my passport off but will queue for it and hope that the weather is okay again! There were so many people who had used agencies/posted and it seems that this is the only sure way.
Well I’m all packed and now off to Goa again……..Good luck to all on here and thankyou for keeping me sane!
hi all! i’ve finally got my passport with the indian visa this morning (Dec1). i posted the application on Nov14, so it’s 12 working days since the day that i posted it.
to be very honest, i was very worried until this morning about whether i could get my document in time (i’m going to fly off on Dec16), but given my experience, i think it’s quite okay to do postal if you have at least a month’s gap between your application and your trip.
good luck to you all!
Thanks a million for all your help with this visa malarchy – it’ll all be worth it when we’re basking in the sun ! x
I applied for a visa by post 10 working days ago. At the time of applying, the HCI quoted that by post it’s 10 working days. I need to fly to the states later this week, but my passport hasn’t returned.
So I went down to the HCI today to see if I could get my passport and visa processed, or at least get it back…
If you’re in a similar situation I wouldn’t recommend trying this!!!
The queue wasn’t too bad, I arrived at 7.45am and queued to the stage where you get your ticket by 9.30am. Trouble is, to get any further you need to show your passport, which I didn’t have. I explained my situation to every official I could find to speak to there…
The answer was that it is ‘*utterly* impossible’ to get your passport processed quicker if you’ve posted it by turning up in person. Perhaps I was just unlucky, but I was given no other options about returning later etc. to be processed. I was told the office does not have any connection with the postal visa service and there is no way of getting the passport out of the system.
The official postal turn around time has now gone up to 15 days – but it seems from the other posts here that it could actually be more.
So if you’ve posted it, in my experience you’ve got no choice but to sit it out, fingers crossed. If anyone has actually managed to do this though, I’d love to know how!
The good news is, the queue doesn’t seem too bad at the moment, it looks like you should get a ticket at the door before 10am if you turn up 7-8am.
If I do this again, I will get an agent to get the visa in 2-3 days, because it seems unknown when you will get your passport back.
I went to Birmingham yesterday, joined a queue of about 30 people at 0630. Around 0845 they opened the lobby so we could get out indoors. About 0900 they opened the door and gave out numbered tickets. Upstairs we sat in a pretty large room, and by 0945 my number was called and I was told to come back in the afternoon about 1600. I did, but had to hang around Birmingham all day. At 1605 I got my passport back with visa in it. I met a lot of people, saw some dodgy characters with huge numbers of applications, some strutting and ‘look at my car’ going on, but this didn’t seem to affect my getting the visa.
– the Birmingham consulate has a notice on its website listing the counties it serves, including, endearingly, somewhere called the ‘Isles of Siccily’. I wasn’t from one of those counties and they didn’t apparently care but they *might*. Certainly if you go to Edinburgh and are not a Scottish resident you are sunk.
– a chap who seemed to be familiar with things India said that if it’s urgent and you take your air ticket they will be sympathetic and not delay.
– a woman was getting angry with the staff. Bad idea. They are just doing their job, I found them quite nice.
– The consulates invite constructive feedback and people should send them some. But the policies of the Indian government on visas are beyond their control. I suggest writing a nice letter to the Indian High Commissioner gently suggesting that the convoluted process is seriously damaging India’s tourist and foreign investment.
– Particularly irritating is the meaningless of it all. They don’t ask whether you have any criminal convictions, whether you belong to any odd organisations etc.. I suppose they might have a database with lists of people they would refuse but it seems the main purpose is to make a point that India requires all foreigners to have visas. Indian nationals get treated far, far worse if they apply to go to the US or UK. And of course probably every country requires Indians to have visas for entry. So hassle all round.
Good luck everyone!
I have found this site extremely helpful and thus want to pass on my experience and advice:
I arrived at the consulate at 6 am and was about 20th in the queue – not bad at all. I quickly started chatting away to those around me in the queue and had quite an enjoyable time – despite the cold and rain (I came prepared for that). In fact one person went and got the coffees in whilst I saved his place!
I could not believe the cheek of people trying to push in for all sorts of reasons. Some were honestly mistaken as the front of the queue has lots of gaps in it as people take shelter in the large windows. It is quite easy to recognise people pushing in if you are near the front and everyone will support you if you tell them to move on – must have had to tell 10 people or so.
Don’t worry about having daysacks or small bags with you, I took only a carrier bag but quickly realised that a proper bag would have been acceptable.
All in all I had my Visa by 9.20am and met some very nice people – in particular A22, a stunning journalist for a international magazine .
I fully recommend going to the consulate in person but only if you can make it early. I never like not knowing the whereabouts of my passport.
I also found this site helpful and here are my experiences.
Arrived at about 7am, the queue was probably around 100 people in front of me. Didn’t notice any queue jumpers.
Got my Q ticket at about 9am and was called at about 9.30am
Passport was ready by 10.30am.
Take an umbrella!
I’ve had a nightmare with this. My passport has been lost by Royal Mail (Thanks!) and I now have to get a new one. The passport will not be with me until at least the 18th Dec and we fly on the 22nd. The Embassy has said that they will be able to grant me a same day Visa as long as I arrive between 6.30 and 7.30am. I’m based in Sheffield and wonder if we can go to Birmingham instead as it’s much nearer for us.
hey all! does anyone know if it is possible to get a visa on the same day if you are not a UK citizen, but nevertheless are an EU citizen and have lived in the UK for over a year?
thanks a million, what a helpful site!
Hi all, after reading the blog I decided to get there early. Arrived at 5am was about 15th in the line. Ticket at 8.20, handed forms in at 8.40 visa back at 9.45. Early start but consdering the 100s behind me, well worth it. I met some people in the line so time went by quickly. It would be great to know if my Irish friend managed to get her visa as she missed her flight yesterday…. email@example.com
Thanks for your very helpful infor. It may be old (2004) for Dec 07, but still mostly relevant. I got there by 7am and the queue was near the BBC building. By 9.15 am I got the Q ticket number 139. I went off for 45mins to a nearby coffee bar to de-freeze with latte. Returned and waited 30mins to hand application in. Spent another 45mins in the coffee bar. Collected visa by 11.30 am. Total 4.5 hrs
This blog is great source of info, thanks to all!
I arrived at High Commission of India in London at 6:40am today. There were about 60 people in front of me. I spent 2 hours in the queue, it was freezing morning, so please don’t forget warm clothes. At the very end I would kill for cup of hot coffee and envied all the smart ones that came with their girlfriends or whoever. My number was called at 9:10 and was told the visa would be ready in an hour. Went to opposite deli for a breakfast, came back and … voila! I got my passport back with a new and shiny visa at 10:10.
For non-UK nationals: I you want to have your visa quicker and cheaper, proof of minimum 1 year residency is necessary. One year old bank statement did the trick.
Hi today is the 13th of dec
can anywayone tell me if I can pick up a visa on the day easily…or if I will have to wait for a week….I am not sure……my feeling is good to get a visa but I just wanted to hear it from you if you judst got one as cklose as possible to todays date and please fill me in on all the do’s and don’ts…such as the best time to get there…etc…….
and is it still the same layout for queing as in that door down the side of the building,…….?
sorry my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
and not @hotmail.com
and what is the exact cost of a 6 mth tourist?
Quick Question – I have been following peoples stories with interest and am planning to run the gauntlet at the high commission next week.
Can anyone tell me what I need to put on the Visa form regarding referee’s in India?
Is this a trick question? Do they care that I don’t have a referee in India?
Any answers would be greatly appreciated….
I REPEAT, NOW LISTEN YOU PEOPLE;
It’s not your job to buy indian visas, It’s their job to sell you a visa.
SO STOP QUEUEING, outside the Indian High Commission at 6.00 am.
SO LET the I H C staff await your custom at 6.00 am !!!!!!
Hi – This has been a great posting and really sorted me out.
I arrived at 5.20am this morning and was about 20th in line. People were goos humoured until about 7.30, when random people started trying to push their way in. Luckily a gentlemen next to me was having none of it and kept going up and asking them to leave.
I got in by 8.40, was told to come back in 1 hour to pick up passport, however I went back at 9.15 and it was ready.
There were a hundred and fifty or so still outside at the time I left. Hope they all made it.
My advice – take something to sit on, a flask of coffee, an Ipod, a book and a torch – (was funny trying to watch people read in the dark!), and be very vocal when people wander up in front of you.
I have been refused a 6 mth tourist visa
instead they have only given 3 mth wsingle entry
does anyone know what regulations they uise….I am bristich citizen
Richard – In response to your question, it’s so that you are contactable (to a certain extent) in case of an emergency. Likewise, the UK referees can be relatives, spouse, etc.
Put your known hotels/addresses in the two spaces to suit the longest durations – that way, you’re covered.
Hope this helps….
Many Thanks Dorian, I went to the High Commission this morning and the whole process went very smoothly despite a long cold wait.
I arrived at 6am and was 30th in line. By 6.30am the queue was up the steps and soon after it was round the corner and far away.
I recommend getting their early if you can. Once I was in I was processed almost immediately and had my passports back by 9.25am.
Same as above today, i got there at 5.45 and was about 15th in line.
Many thanks for the creators of this forum.
We arrived at India house this morning at 6.40 AM and got position 49 & 50 in the queue (just standing on the steps), people at the start of the queue were in sleeping bags and looked like they had been there all night!
Got number 42/43 and were dealt with at 9.05AM and had our passports and visas back at 9.50AM.
Started queuing at 4.30. Got a ticket at 8.30. Visa granted by 9.
Chatted to others already in the line and others who joined later. On getting the tickets (tell the man at the counter how many visa applications you have) from the counter at 8.30, my numbers flashed up on the number display almost immediately. The officer checked the form and the passport, counted the money. No other questions asked and was told to come back in 1hr. If you wait for a 15-20mins, they call out the numbers of the prepared visas very soon. There is no queue for collecting the visas.
TIPS for VISA applications.
Get a night bus or cab to arrive at the HCI before the London Underground starts its first journeys – the queue starts getting longer from around 5.30.
Make sure you join the right queue – the visa services queue leads up to the door near the memorial stone of a police DC.
Wear as many layers of clothing as you can, including at least 2 pairs of socks and thick boots – it gets very cold.
Bring something to while away time – mp3 player, (not book as there is little light till about 8am), some food/drink.
Get friendly with those in front of and behind you in the queue – they can help while away the time, keep your position in the queue if you want to buy some coffee or snacks, take a loo break or if queue jumpers intimidate you.
Be wary of queue jumpers. Deal with them right away.
Bring a collapsible chair/stool – very handy for waiting 4-6 hours outside.
Have the exact amount in cash (a few were stranded after having only credit cards or not enough).
If you are given a white ticket, proceed downstairs, yellow ticket – upstairs.
Tips for OCI applications:
Have 4 square photographs (35mm x 35mm) for each application. You can crop the normal photographs to this size. It doesn’t matter if the background is white. (http://hicomind.org.nz/oci/photospacification.html)
Have two copies of everything for an application.
For each photocopy – write “SELF-ATTESTED”, your name, signature and date.
Make sure the first page (photo page) and the last page (mother/father/address, etc) of your passports are copied as well.
Collate each set of application documents to save time.
Don’t staple anything together.
You can get your passports cancelled when you submit your applications.
Get a separate ticket from the consular/passport services counter which is a separate counter and has a different queue.
1 ticket can include many applications for OCI.
Go upstairs and go to the “OCI cell” which opens at 1000.
Wait for your number to be called out.
Have the exact amount of cash.
Hi…I have just been very impressed with the speed I received my visa via a postal application. I posted it on 12 Dec and it was returned 21 Dec, total of 9 days!!! I did type my application form so it was very easy to read (you can do this online in the Word format). Also if you are in doubt which referee to give as your 2nd one, I used the British High Commission in New Delhi, the consuls name and full address can be obtained via Google.
Thanks to the tips here I had a stress free visa application session today.
Arrived at 06:20 in about 50th place and settled in for a couple of hours on a camping chair. Saw a visa officer at about 08:45 and had my passport back and was on my way at 09:30.
If you live close to a consulate I think it is time well spent to go in person. I only went myself after a visa agent’s courier lost my passport last week but I would do it again.
After reading the comments left by others, I was prepared for the worst! Decided I wasn’t going to “camp out” at an unearthly hour, so arrived at the more civilised time of 8.05. Queue was up to Bush House (about 150 yds). Here goes, I thought. But surprise, at about 8.25, the queue started moving, and quite briskly too. By 8.45 I was collecting my queue ticket. Tell the guy how many visas you’re applying for – one Q ticket per application. I was given 2 white tickets, (2 visas to get), other people got yellow ones. I then joined a short queue to get inside the door. A guy here lets you inside in groups, to help keep the crowds down once inside. White ticket, down the steps, yellow, upstairs.
It was fairly packed inside, but everyone was in good spirits. Keep an eye on the display – it tells you which number is next and which window to go to (it’s like a bank). The numbers can move on quickly so keep a careful eye on it, but sometimes it stays on the same number for ages, due mainly to people filling in forms at the window. Hint, fill in the form BEFORE you get here and save everyone, including staff, a lot of waiting. It’s painful watching idiots filling in their form at the window!! Get a life.
My numbers came up at 10.15. After your form is processed you get a ticket (or tickets) with your original Q number on. This is for collecting your visa at window 7. I was told half an hour. Window 7 is about the size of a small serving hatch with a speaker above it, to the left of the main windows. Your ticket number is called here when your visa is ready. The speaker is not very loud, so keep listening or get close to the window. The visas don’t arrive in any particular order, so you may miss your number if you don’t hear it.
My numbers were called at 10.30 – brilliant.
A couple of things:
The queue outside died away at about 9.30. but then a smaller one started to form at about 10.15. I think they were telling people to come back later – possibly to keep numbers inside down.
The sytem works well. The staff work very hard, so smile and be polite to them. The main “problem” is the cramped and crowded situation inside, but it’s not intolerable. There are seats, but you’ll be lucky to get one. I found that by having a chat to people the time passed quite quickly. I quite enjoyed the experience (I need to get out more!!) and it was nowhere near as painful as I had expected.
Hope this helps. Good luck and happy new year. Goa here I come!!
Joined queue @ 7:25, got queue ticket @ 8:35, went inside @ 8:40, made application @ 9:20, went for a coffee then picked up visa @ 9:50, that’s 2.5 hours overall.
It’s a trade-off: if you want to be certain of getting your visa or want to get it quickly, join the queue early & wait for a long time. But if you’re not in a hurry & could go back next day, join the queue late, don’t queue for so long but take a risk. I was told they handle 1500 applications each day.
There’s a photo-booth & a coffee machine adjacent to the visa hall. If you’re Australian but your passport was issued in the UK, then you don’t need to provide evidence of residence or pay the surcharge.
It’s not a big deal, but queuing is colder than you expect.
The holiday season is over, and the postal application is back on and running, SO STOP BLOODY BEING STUPID, unless it’s brtitsh nature to queue at 5.00 am for no apparent reason
The comments above are apt; unfortunately due to late booking, we couldn’t rely on postal application. I’d also had a bad experience several years ago where India House lost my passport when I made a postal application.
Therefore I arrived just before 6.00 yesterday. Intially I was fairly close to the window but was steadily bumped back as the queue gets longer due to people holding a place for friends/relatives to “wander in” later. Why do people do this – it p*sses off everyone else who has taken the effort to stand around in the cold!! A couple of us challenged them, but they denied they’d done anything wrong or simply lied and said they’d been queuing all along!
You are able to make multiple applications so why not stay in bed and get your wife/girlfriend, husband/boyfriend to queue up for you instead. This is the approach my wife took, hence the reason I was sent out in the cold yesterday!
I had been queuing for a couple of hours opposite a High Commission window saying no bags except for a “small ladies purse”, but the bag rule seems to have relaxed; Many people were taking in small rucksacks, including me.
Given the bag rule has been relaxed take a flask of tea/coffee with you and some food – it is a long wait and it gets cold. An MP3/iPod is also a good idea to while away the time.
Most important is talking to the people next to you. Everyone has their own story.
In terms of process the doors open promptly just before 8.30. You collect your numbered ticket(s) and go either upstairs or downstairs depending on ticket colour. On Monday morning the waiting room was a tip and looks like a very old social security office (for those who remember them!). The room soon fills up. My application was seen at 8.30, and ready for collection by 9.20.
Window 7 where the Visas are released is near to the upstairs entry door and soon becomes a bottleneck as people crowd around the serving hatch while others try to enter the Visa hall.
The whole process is a big money making machine for someone. The costs (including hidden costs for those who need to stay overnight in hotels/car park fees/ other travel costs etc) must be substantial when aggregated across the thousands of applicants per day and are unnecessary when things could be done more simply and with a little investment more quickly. I can only guess it is not in the interest of High Commission of India to change things while they are making so much money and as the previous correspondant said, we are so stupid to put up with this system.
Yesterday, next to the window where you collect your Visa upstairs there were two adverts: The high commission was “interested in receiving offers” on two top of the range Mercs, which were now nearly five years old I somehow doubt they were swapping the “company car” to a Prius!!
I agree with what you are saying, The Indian Government is making huge amounts of money, the number of BRITISH tourist alone, stands at 500,000 per year. So if you say £30 per a Visa x 500,000 amounts to mega £ 15,000,000 YES ( Fifteen million Pounds per Annum. So given this cash cow producing this kind of cash, why would they scrap the visa system. They don’t have visas for Dubai, oman etc.
When I was in East Africa.the Africans had a way of dealing with the price fixing cartel of the asians traders, was to BOYCOTT the shops owned by the asians, which in turn meant, – No customers equals no business !!!
However the disease of UK – RIP THE PUBLIC OFF AT EVERY TURN, seems to be everywhere, because no one complains, or bothers to walk away.
We got 4 visas this morning from visa surgery in Nottingham. Husband queued from 6.45am – there were already 15 people before him. Dropped mum in law off to keep his place at 8am so he can take son to football. Picked mum in law up at 10.30am – 4 visas ( £220 postal order). We were advised by the community centre to go early and wear warm clothes. Ring local indian temples – sometimes they provide help with getting visa on your behalf.
We’re travelling to india one lot on Sunday and the other lot on the 15th Feb and need visas……to use a service and send the stuff off is between £70 and £160 but to que up it sounds like from above posts to take a whole day and then some off work to get a visa!
Has anyone qued at london for a visa recently? I know they were having problems in October but i’d like to be assured that turning up at 645am ish will guarantee a visa that same day at least?
Can anyone advise?
This site has been really helpfull !
Just to update the information. I obtained my visa this morning 14th Jan. The visa process from the time the doors opened to when I picked up my visa was 1hr 20min.
I joined the Q at around 0640 with 67 in front of me. so 1hr and 50min spent Q’ing!
By 0700 it had grown to around 250 people.
However when I left there were only 10-15 left. Maybe I could’ve had another 30-40min in bed!
Make sure you have warm clothing it was perishingly cold in the wind especially if you are not behind the main buliding.
Thanks Mik for the latte and your company which made the time whizz by…..all the best with your visa.
Sarah, the visas are issued on the same day, usually between 0.5-2h. Therefore you only need to take a day off work. It is also possible that if you queue early enough you can get your visas by mid-morning and go back to work after noon.
Also, the visas’ start date is the day you get it. So you can get all your visas in one visit including for those travelling in Feb. Most visas last for at least 6 months.
As everyone pointed out, the earlier you queue up, the further in front you are and the earlier you get your visas. What usually happens is the numbers increase quicker around 6.30am as soon as the Tube starts running between 5and 6am. After reading the advice left by others here, I decided that losing some sleep and bearing the cold by waiting early and getting out early. Wrap up for the cold and wet weather, have a good breakfast, make sure you have the right documents, exact amount in cash (no cards or cheques) and the required photos. (Maybe a collapsible camping stool as well 🙂
What an excellent site. Adrian very impressed that you chose to share your experiences in such an accesible manner. It’s a pity that it fell to you but pleased that it has and you’ve answered most of my questions on my first trip to india. Not sure whether you can help further but I note that I have to take other documents, does this relate to proof of a return/onward ticket. Any help gratefully recieved. Jim
I have flights booked for the 6th March to Delhi. Can people reassure me that if I apply for my visa via the post next week (22nd Jan) it will definately be ready by then!?
This site helped me with info to get my visa so thought i would report my experience to help others …
Turned up at 7am to get my visa (and 2 others for friends) today – was already quite a few people in the queue when I arrived (it is all a bit disorganised as people dont seem to realise that there are 2 queues – 1 for Indians and 1 for foreigners) – but it opened bang on 8:30am and I was inside by 8:40am with numbers 1099, 1100 and 1101 (meaning there were 99 applications in front of me)
I got seen by 9:15am and was told my visas should be ready for collection in around 1 hour – so i sat down and started to read the collection of magazines I had bought along with me
I was pleasantly suprised when the first of my passports was ready after just 30 mins – the second was ready another 20 mins later and I was impressed at how smoothly everything was going (i guess it was all too good to be true!) – then I waited and waited and waited – for some unknown reason it was a whole 90 minutes later that the third passport finally appeared – meaning I didnt get out until almost midday!
So it seems everything goes well for getting in the building and giving your application in but it is completely random on how long they take to process the visa and give back your passport as I handed 3 in at the same time and one took only 30 mins while the third took 2 hours and 30 mins!!
which days is it open ?
Since this website was extremely helpful thought I’d return the favour. Arrived at 6:45am today, was in by 8:40 and had my passport back by 9:30. The trick is definately to get in early, and get it done quick. The queue behind me was massive.
Once I’d handed in my passport I had time to pop out to a cafe to get a bit of breakfast before returning for it, it really was that easy.